Alcohol and other drugs

Alcohol and other drugs refer to substances which we use to change the way our body and brain function. This includes how we think, feel and behave.

Why do people use substances?

People use substances for a range of reasons:

To feel better

Positive effects of substance use include feeling happy, relaxed, confident, and 'getting high'. This allows individuals to feel less inhibited, more social and engaging, and depending on the substance, may heighten or dull their senses and perceptions of reality.

To fit in

Substance use is influenced by social and cultural expectations such as partying, peer pressure, other rituals and customs which become part of our lifestyle.

To cope

For some, substance use allows one to escape from or deal with stressful life events.

What are the costs of substance use?

However, substance use can impact on our physical and mental health and make existing medical conditions worse.

  • Misuse (prolonged or heavy use) can lead to tolerance. Tolerance means that you must use more of the substance to feel the same effects you used to have with smaller amounts. Tolerance can also lead to problems related to substance dependence and addiction.
  • Dependence means you find it difficult to cut down on your substance and when you do, you experience withdrawal effects.
  • Addiction means your life becomes consumed by the substance, getting it, taking it and recovering from it, to the point that nothing else matters.

How do I know I have a problem?

To find out if you have a problem with substances, you can complete an online assessment.


If you'd like more support, come along to one of our workshops or make an appointment for individual counselling.

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